We’re going to China!

Wooohooo!  Travel Approval is here!  I got a call earlier with a 512 area code; Great Wall China Adoption is in Texas.  My heart skipped a beat and then my excitement was confirmed.  A bit unexpected since TA is supposed to take 3-8 weeks and our paperwork went to CCCWA last Friday.  Good thing I’ve been feeling the pressure to do some early prep-work.  We could be travelling as early as July 11th, since our consulate appointment is being requested for July 25th.  If we don’t get that appointment we’ll be travelling the 18th or the 25th.  So we will definitely be getting our Christmas in July!

I immediately burst into song:

http://www.nickelodeonafrica.com/shows/ni-hao-kai-lan/videos/kai-lan-goes-to-china/da4ap5

and then Julia did too 🙂

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News from China!

Rhodes family-Yang Yu Zhen photos2 Rhodes family-Yang Yu Zhen photos3

It was so fun to receive an update on our little cutie yesterday!  She looks like she’s growing every day!  Here are a few things we now know about Olivia.  She’s 89 cm tall – I’ll make you do your own math!  🙂  I compared that to Julia’s marks on the wall and she’s about as tall as Julia was when she turned 3.  (Olivia turned 2 in March).  She’s 28 lbs, so I’ll be working on those biceps for the next month!

She’s a healthy eater and sleeper (ha, my new baby sleeps through the night!) and naps for 2 hours during the day.  She seems to be able to do almost anything with her hands and doesn’t need any special help.  She’s walking well and won’t need special shoes.

Phil may finally have a mini-me personality-wise.  Julia and Rion are showing strong tendencies of my personality.  (I’m sure the stubborn part of Rion is all Phil though).  Julia’s competitive spirit is alive and well just like mine.  And just to prove that he’s MY son Rion started organizing my very-well-organized pantry yesterday!  🙂  Olivia is apparently much more reserved.  She likes to watch and observe before she gets involved.  They said “she needs time to adapt and understand the stranger” and “she will be very quiet in a strange environment”.  I liked how they described what makes her happy (because it shows how they loved her in the foster home): “Combing her beautiful hair and praise her.  Putting on new clothes sent by her parents will also make her happy and proud.”  I think God knows we needed another quiet person around here.  Of course, I know that won’t always be the case, and we can’t wait to hear three sets of giggles and shouts in our house!

 

Fundraising Update

money

I bet you’re all wondering how our fundraising efforts are progressing. So far, we’ve raised $8,615 towards Olivia’s adoption. Thank you to all our generous friends, family and others who’ve purchased Amazon items through our link, purchased t-shirts, or just donated. We only have about one more month to raise funds because we’re expecting to travel to China in very early July.  Plus, I’ve been “fundraising” at work too.  One of my good clients sent me several projects during May, and I’ve been putting in more billable hours, a lawyer’s best friend, as a result.  So, that’s why we haven’t written as many blog posts in the last few weeks.

You can help us adopt Olivia by

1)   Purchasing items from Amazon through our link:  http://amzn.to/15Wgc7y

2)   Purchasing our t-shirt on this page:  http://bringinghomeoliviajade.com/tees/

3)  Donating a tax-deductible amount through our Adopt Together link:  https://www.adopttogether.org/00230/

Thanks for your help in bringing little Olivia Jade home!

Love Crosses Oceans

They’re here!  We’re so excited that our fundraising T-shirts have arrived!  Julie Gumm, Phil’s sister, did such a great job designing these beautiful shirts. We’re still taking orders and will be ordering a second batch very soon.  It has been fun to see who’s buying these.

Some friends and family have ordered shirts mostly because of their support of Olivia’s adoption.  Others have bought them because of their own adoption connections to China and Africa (yes, we have two designs).  One lady saw our link on Facebook and bought one because she herself was adopted from Africa.  I love that the shirts say adoption to us, but to others they might be about their passion for missions or maybe sponsored children through Compassion International or World Vision.

DSC_0096Julia and Rion can’t wait to wear their shirts in China and see Olivia in hers too.  🙂  You can buy yours here.

You’re Gonna Miss This

am photo

This was the scene at the foot of our bed this morning when I left at 6 am.  Then, I heard this song on the radio driving to the office.  It’s all worthwhile.

Immigration Approval for Olivia? Check.

hannah 03 12.jpgThings are moving quickly now!  Remember, we just got our official referral from China on April 22.  Friday, we got our official US immigration approval to bring Olivia home.   Now, we’re just waiting for travel approval from the Chinese government, our U.S. consulate appointment, and our visas.  We could travel as soon as 8 weeks from now at the beginning of July!  Yikes.

We are all so excited about traveling to China and meeting Olivia for the first time.  The closer we get, the more I remember going to China to adopt Julia and Rion.  We’re just full of so much nervous anticipation.  We just have no idea how Olivia will react to suddenly being thrust in the arms of two big white people and their two Chinese kids that speak a funny language.  She’s a few months older than two, so she has quite a bit of awareness.

With Julia, she was a little teary and fearful during the first 36 hours.  But, after that she quickly warmed up and started showing us a little more of her fun, silly personality each day.  She’d lived in a foster home for quite awhile, so she understood living as part of a family.  With Rion, we had a much rougher time.  Or, he did.  He lived with a foster family for almost 3 years.  With Olivia, we just don’t know.  Every kid is different.  We hope and fray that we can ease her fears quickly and welcome her to our family with a whole lotta love.

 

 

Olivia’s Safe and Sound Away from the Earthquake

For those who noticed among the Boston news yesterday, there was a 7.0 earthquake in the Sichuan province of China yesterday, as reported in the New York Times.  The earthquake, in the same area as the 2008 quake, was devastating with early reports of 157 dead and 5700 injured.  Olivia’s safe and sound, however, a good distance away from Sichuan.  Olivia currently lives in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.  It’s a good 800 miles from the earthquake-affected region.  We’ll write more about the city of Guilin later, which is one of the prettiest cities in China.Pagodas in Guilin

The Hardest Decision

JuliaJulia asked me to read her a story Saturday afternoon.  She picked The Prince of Egypt, which is based on the Disney movie about the life of Moses.  We sat down on the couch and started to read.  I got to the beginning of the second page, “Yocheved (Moses’ mother) made the hardest decision of all:  to save her child, she must send him away.”  BAM, just like that the truth of it hit me HARD.  I fought back the tears that were welling in my eyes, and it was several minutes before I could go on.

One consequence of adopting from China is that you usually don’t get any information about your child except where someone found them—police station, hospital, community park, or other public visible place.  Sometimes there’s a note with the exact birth date, but often Chinese officials just guess and assign a date.  With Julia, however, we know a little more.  Her mother gave birth to her in this subway station in Guangzhou, China.  DSC_0481She was taken to a nearby hospital so they could cut the umbilical cord.  When doctors cut the cord, she ran.

Our guide on Julia’s adoption trip speculated that Julia’s birth mother was probably a young single woman.  Under Chinese population control laws, she was not permitted to have a child.  If she did, the child wouldn’t have access to the government health care or public schooling.  Simon, our guide, also speculated that Julia’s birth mother gave birth in a public place just so that Julia would be found.

Yocheved, Moses’ mother, knew that the Egyptians would kill Moses if they discovered him.  Pharoah had decreed that all Hebrew baby boys should be killed because he feared an uprising from their growing numbers.  So, she set him adrift on the Nile River where he was adopted into Pharoah’s household.

From our perspective, it’s hard to accept a mother’s abandonment of her child.  But, Chinese society is far different.  So, as Julia grows up and wrestles with her abandonment by her birth mother, we’ll try to help her understand.  Her birth mother probably made this most difficult choice:  to save her child, she ran away.  Julia will probably wrestle with this a lot as she grows up, and she’ll feel the loss deeply.  But, I know we’ll be there to listen and seek to understand what she feels.

Xinran’s book, Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother:  Stories of Loss and Love describes the difficult choices made by many mothers.  Xinran, a former radio personality in Nanjing, China, interviewed midwives, students, businesswomen, peasants and adoption workers about relinquishing their daughters.  They talk about the combination of feudal traditions, government policy and abject poverty that causes women to relinquish their daughters.  It’s a heartbreaking read, but if you want to learn the real circumstances behind the stories of these mothers, I highly recommend it.  Written to the “lost daughters,” Xinran tells the story of how much their mothers loved them and how, as one put it, “they paid for that love with an endless stream of bitter tears.”  Ultimately, we hope Julia realizes how much her mother must have loved her, and how much she cared.

Redeemed

DSC_0065“I’m ready”, Julia said last night when I asked what she wanted to pray for,  “To ask God to come into my heart”.  What an amazing Easter gift!

We already knew our little girl believed.  Her favorite stories of the Bible are the ones surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus.  She has been able to explain clearly for quite some time now how God planned these events to save us from our sins.  And it is personal for her.  She knows just how much Jesus loves her and that she can always count on him.  She has such a mature understanding that we thought Easter week would be a great time for us to specifically ask her if she’d like to pray to invite Jesus into her heart.  Friday was the big night.  We were a little surprised to hear her simply say, “No, thank you”.  Hmmm.  We just told her that was fine, and that if she felt ready at some time we would be happy to pray with her.  We never wanted her to do it for us, but only once she was ready to make her own decision.  We figured it might be months or years, but we were confident the time would come, because God has been clearly working in her for so long.  I was happily surprised when she said she had been thinking about it yesterday and had decided she was ready.

Watching a little one grow in their faith is such an amazing experience.  Sometimes their faith seems to outpace our teaching and what we could even imagine they could understand.  Just the other night I asked Rion what makes him happy.  His first answer was “Jesus”!  After that came Mama, Julia, Olivia, and Baba (Daddy).  The fact that Jesus could come first tells me that Jesus is actively doing great things in his heart.  This little boy is only just learning to formulate sentences that don’t contain Chinese words.  The hugs, kisses, comforting, games and everything else he gets every day come from those of us he can SEE.  Yet Jesus is already so real to him that He gets first ranking.  Oh please, let Jesus keep that position in Rion’s heart!

We’ve prayed for each of our children before they came into our family.  But God has loved each of them long before we even knew about them.  The Bible tells us that caring for the fatherless is at the very heart of God, that he is a father to the fatherless and that he sets the lonely in families.  Adoption allows us to understand him and know him in a whole new way.  God pursued each of us when we were destitute and alone and he himself adopts those of us as his children who turn to him and trust in his son, Jesus.  Despite the pain and loss that goes along with adoption, I pray that their adoption experience will help our children understand God in a profound way.

Now we get to see that God is already taking care of Olivia.  She is in the care of wonderful Christians who are hopefully already giving her a glimpse of a loving God.  Now we just need to get her home to her forever family!

Happy Easter everyone!

Buy Stuff at Amazon? You Can Help Olivia Jade

Everybody buys stuff at Amazon, don’t they?  Personally, I’d be a little afraid to tally up my lifetime of purchases from Amazon.  I’ve bought countless (actual paper) books from Amazon.  Tricia and I both have Kindles, and we love them.  If we buy a new book, we try to buy it in Kindle format.  You can really take them anywhere.  It’s so easy to slip a Kindle into your bag or jacket pocket anytime you know you’ll have to wait a little bit (unless you have toddlers with you).

But, I’m not trying to sell you a Kindle.  Anytime you buy something from Amazon, you can buy it through our affiliate link.  You pay the same low Amazon price, and you get the same quick Amazon shipping.  But, Amazon gives us a small slice of the sale.  It’s a small slice, but it adds up over time.  Here’s how:

  1. Click on http://amzn.to/15Wgc7y or the one on the right hand side, which will always be there.
  2. Once you’re at the Amazon page, bookmark the link.  We recommend putting it in your bookmark bar across the top of your browser so it’s very handy.  Label the bookmark something like “Amazon Olivia.”  Then, you can easily click the bookmark next time you shop at Amazon.
  3. Or, you can use the short link http://amzn.to/15Wgc7y
  4. Shop away at Amazon.

Amazon thanks you, and Olivia Jade thanks you!

P.S.  If you do buy a Kindle, buy it through our affiliate link.